Broome County Music Educators’ Association and Binghamton Community Orchestra to collaborate on “Music Outside the Box”

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From the Broome County Music Educators’ Association:

Binghamton, NY – What happens to a music education organization during a pandemic? Likewise, what does an orchestra do when it can no longer rehearse together or perform in public? With live music on a long hiatus, musicians, students and the community have suffered a great loss. Two local community music groups have an idea. The Binghamton Community Orchestra and Broome County Music Educators’ Association are collaborating on an event, “Music Outside the Box,” which will provide a unique musical opportunity to numerous Broome County music students, their teachers, and local performing musicians.

Evan Meccarello, Musical Director of the Binghamton Community Orchestra, has made good use of his connections with musicians and composers on the cutting edge of today’s creative musical community. Featured on this program will be pieces written to be performed virtually to accommodate the time delay in a virtual setting. Local student participants will actually once again be able to make music together, live, from the safety of their own homes.

By embracing online technology, the ensemble music used in this project creates opportunities for musicians to experience elements of chamber music—joining in and responding to sounds being created by others in real time. This is in stark contrast to the majority of large-group “virtual performances” heard during the pandemic, where musicians do not play live but record separately and alone, with a click track or backing track.

Written by diverse living composers, the music of the project works by not attempting to synchronize a pulse, but instead, by organizing the flow by other means. The instrumental pieces were written specifically for online remote performance, creating textures, waves, call and response, and sometimes using online latency like an electronic special effect. Maestro Meccarello tells us, “The composers Angélica Negrón, Dai Fujikura, and Xenia Gibert have each come up with

beautiful and thought-provoking ways for musicians to embrace the time lag that is part of performing together over the internet.”

Students also will have the opportunity to create their own music. The vocal part of the program, led by specialists in contemporary music from Quince Vocal Ensemble, connects the origins of music notation to the avant-garde tradition of the 20th century. Students will experience graphic musical scores of the 1950s and onward that play with the line between notation and visual art. Using their own voices and pens, they will create and perform their own graphic scores. Instrumental students, mentored and lead by Meccarello, will encounter improvisation in two of the three pieces, where composers encourage artistic creation within set boundaries. Instrumentalists will also have the opportunity to participate in masterclass/workshops to be instructed by BCO musicians.

Jackie Kovacs, President of BCMEA says, “The pandemic has forced music educators and students to explore new ways to create, experience and share music. When BCMEA knew our traditional festivals were not taking place, we wanted to find an alternate opportunity for our students. Collaborating with Mr. Meccarello, BCO and BCMEA has opened a connection for our young musicians to create music with community musicians and their peers. Through this endeavor, student musicians, clinicians, and teachers are sharing a life-long experience of music creation.”

The event will be April 16, 17 and 18, 2021 hosted virtually on Zoom. The efforts of these students will be recorded and presented to the students’ parents and teachers in a virtual concert on the final day of the festival. School districts involved with this event include: Binghamton, Chenango Forks, Chenango Valley, Maine-Endwell, Seton Catholic, Union-Endicott, Vestal, Whitney Point and Windsor. Maestro Meccarello offers this in closing, “It is thrilling to bring students together with this creative music that engages with feelings of our time and allows us to connect and join our sounds safely.”

“This event is made possible with public funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and administered by The Earlville Opera House “

“Additional support for the Broome DEC Program graciously provided by the Stewart W. and Willma C. Hoyt Foundation, Inc.

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